It’s Your Lot: The 5 Best Places for an Outdoor Space at Home in the U.S.

Americans have always valued space – indoors, outdoors and below – with the pandemic only adding to this preference for living large. However, many of their larger cities have seen shrinkage of residential land as available land becomes scarce and construction costs soar. That’s according to a recent report by StorageCafé which looked at how home and lot sizes have changed over the past 100 years.

How much space is considered a lot? (Photo by Artazum/Shutterstock)

So where can locals get their cake and eat it too in this context? Indianapolis, for its part, offers plenty of room to roam around the house with lot sizes standing out as the largest in the country. Jacksonville, Florida is also a great location for those looking for outdoor space at home, as the local grounds also span 9,000 square feet.

These days new construction offers more space indoors than outdoors, but some cities – usually sprawling metropolises – will still give you big backyards where family fun can extend to the beyond the walls of the house. Here are the top five cities where yard space can meet people’s need for space well.

Indianapolis, Indiana

  • Median lot size (entire inventory) – 9,191 sq. ft.
  • Median home size (all inventory) – 1,465 sq. ft.
  • House size share of lot (all inventory) – 15.9%

When it comes to lot sizes, Indianapolis shines the most among the 20 largest cities, as the median housing lot size is around 9,200 square feet. The median size of the houses is close to 1,500 square feet, allowing an occupation of approximately 16% of the land.

New homes, however, tend to be larger in Indianapolis, reducing the overall availability of yard space in new construction, especially those built within the last decade. Homes built between 2010 and 2019 are approximately 2,140 square feet and sit on 7,900 square feet of land.

Jacksonville, Florida

  • Median lot size (all inventory) – 9,104 sq. ft.
  • Median home size (all inventory) – 1,812 sq. ft.
  • House size share of lot (all inventory) – 19.9%

Jacksonville, Florida is the only coastal city on the list of cities with the largest yard spaces, with a median lot size of 9,100 square feet. The median home size is approximately 1,800 square feet or 20% of the lot.

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The heyday of residential lots in Jacksonville dates back to the 1970s, when lots were over 11,000 square feet, with homes up to 1,800 square feet. Much like Indy, homes have grown significantly over the past decade, pushing land use to around 30%, which is higher than in previous decades.

Austin, TX

  • Median lot size (all inventory) – 8,629 sq. ft.
  • Median home size (all inventory) – 1,865 sq. ft.
  • House size share of lot (all inventory) – 21.6%

As a Texas city, Austin doesn’t shirk the state’s propensity to become big. Residential lots in City of Legends claim the third largest median lot size at around 8,600 square feet. Homes have a median size of approximately 1,900 square feet.

Austin’s residential land has had its twists and turns over the past century. Starting at around 6,700 square feet in 1920, the median lot size peaked in the 1960s at 9,500 square feet, much like other cities that did well around the same time.

People here can still enjoy spacious homes while still having plenty of space to stretch out outdoors or even easily grill in their backyards. At a glance, you can find homes over 2,000 square feet in Old West Austin, but also throughout South Austin, at Buff Springs and Circle C Ranch, for example.

Charlotte, North Carolina

  • Median lot size (all inventory) – 8,538 sq. ft.
  • Median home size (entire inventory – 2,064 sq. ft.
  • House size share of lot (all inventory) – 24.2%

Charlotte is another city where median residential land is significant. The lots are often over 8,500 square feet and the houses are also quite large. Charlotte homes average around 2,000 square feet.

Residential lot sizes peaked in the 1970s at 59,000 square feet. Over the past decade, land has shrunk to 7,500 square feet with homes spanning over 2,350 square feet, representing land use in new construction of over 30%.

Spacious homes are now a common sight in Charlotte with neighborhoods such as Freedom Park and Elizabeth offering plenty of options for those who see yards as extensions of their homes.

Dallas, TX

  • Median lot size (all inventory) – 8,194 sq. ft.
  • Median home size (all inventory) – 1,581 sq. ft.
  • House size share of lot (all inventory) – 19.3%

Another Texas city to make it into the top five cities for residential lot size rankings, Dallas stands out with its median lot size of around 8,200 square feet. At the same time, homes average 1,600 square feet, taking up almost 20% of the housing lot.

Residential lot sizes peaked in Dallas in the 1960s, with the average residential lot size around 10,000 square feet.

Living in homes that provide access to spacious outdoor spaces has become much more desirable since the onset of the pandemic, with yard space often at a premium. Sprawling cities like Indianapolis, Jacksonville, and Charlotte, where expansive yard space has traditionally been a part of residential choices, can still accommodate residents’ space needs. At the other end of the spectrum, Philadelphia and Chicago offer far less space around the house, bringing a trade-off to the negotiating table: large interior or sprawling exterior? Having both is now much less likely.